We evacuated to my in laws in Greenwood, MS in the middle of the night as Ida intensified to a 4 (which is when I started to worry) and jogged east toward Orleans parish.
World Central Kitchen is a great organization to support in this time, as is Second Harvest Food Bank (full disclosure: my wife works there).
Closer to home and more grass rootsy, Culture Aid Nola has been organizing meals out of The Howlin’ Wolf to serve the community, staffed by largely hospitality workers who rode the storm out and supported by dozens and dozens of restaurants who cooked everything in their walk ins and brought it over and donated everything frozen; the smoker from Cochon Butcher is there as I type this cooking whatever is on hand.
And lastly, we must not forget the thousands of acts of kindness and decency being displayed by all our residents- this is all I hear from friends, loved ones and colleagues who are there RIGHT NOW, in the blistering, last summer, south Louisiana heat and humidity. Through sporadic social media contact (cell service is next to existent still) and communiques with industry folk who evacuated and are heading back to pitch in, there are tremendous bonds of deep love, empathy and affection for all of us who call New Orleans home.
I personally am headed down tomorrow with my unfortunately small sized car that will be packed with the essentials and whatever requests restaurant folks and neighbors have made; Secure my house and return back to Mississippi to continue to cook for my in laws who are elderly and facing surgery in a week and need a freezer full of heat and eat meals.
Local Entergy sources are saying power restoration will take up to 3 weeks and the Sewerage & Water Board says the sanitation systems are running on flimsy generators- I will leave it to the worst depths of your imagination to consider what will happen if these fail, even in some minor fashion. What this also means is that showers, toilets, washing machines and running water are in the DO NOT USE category for residents so as to not overload the system so that 1st Responders, Hospitals and the like can function without overloading the system.
Take care y’all, hug your loved ones extra tight and we will see y’all in the Big Easy once the lights are on and stoves are lit.
Executive Sous Chef, Herbsaint Restaurant, New Orleans, LA